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I write to you from America's vacationland which I was surprised to learn is Maine. I know, eh -- you would have thought Florida or California. But license plates do not lie (10 000 LAKES, MINNESOTA) and Maine is, apparently, Vacationland.

First the backstory. When I was a kid, my family vactioned in a charming beach community in southern Maine. Four or five years in a row we were there. Those memories are the meat in my childhood summer vacation sandwich (YMCA camp being the slightly soggy bread). The cottages were roomy and full of character, the lobsters were succulent, and the surf was amazing though frigid. We spent most of the two weeks on the beach. On rainy days my brother and I would play cards, build plasticene snakes, and say NO whenever my dad proposed a trip to Boston. (What if the sun comes out? we said. We'll miss the waves.) Vacationland, indeed.

So when, a few weeks ago, I came across an internet ad featuring the very same beach community I remembered, with summer cottages still for rent, I took a chance and signed us up. The kids cleared their summer work schedules, and we were off.

Maine is ten hours from Cobourg. My kids are gung ho vacationers, and time is short. We decided to do it all in a day. The first thing we'd need, they decided, was juice boxes and snacks. The second: nicknames. These developed all at once as we were driving through woodsy hilly Vermont (GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE) and perhpas for that reason several of them have a decidedly native American caste. Imo, for some reason, became Michilimackinac. Sam is now Apache Chief. Thea is Ham Hock (not particualrly native) and Ed is Buttons (not native at all). I, I am proud to say, am Sacagawea. That's me in the picture.

As we left the interstates and drove for a long time on Highway 302, through New Hampshire (LIVE FREE OR DIE! possibly my favorite license plate motto) and Maine (VACATIONLAND) the kids began to notice that there were a lot of cemeteries. A lot.

This isn't creepy at all, said Ed who had the shotgun seat.

Sure isn't, chimed Imo from the back. I like cemeteries. And see how the trees close in overhead.

A nice warm atmosphere, eh?

Shut up, Michilimackinac! said Thea.

We arrived at supper time, unloaded the car, and stepped into our home for the next week. Historic Bolton Cottage. Ten minutes later I was checking out kitchen supplies, wondering what we'd need to buy, when the kids came running downstairs screaming.

Dad this is the creepiest place ever!

Dad there's a ghost, and a hundred spiders, and and it's baking hot!

Dad, can we go home?

Can we go NOW?

They huddled together, four nearly grown children, shivering with fright. I smiled.

You can call me Sacagawea.


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